- How Unilever’s Proposed N58b Rights Issue Will Boost Capital Market
The proposed N58billion rights issue by Unilever Nigeria Plc has generated a lot of excitement amongst market watchers, who have expressed optimism that the offering has the potential to further deepen the nation’s capital market.
The company had on Thursday presented facts behind its plans to raise N58, 851,275,010.00 on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Lagos.
A total of 1,961,709,167 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each will be offered to existing shareholders on the basis of 14 new ordinary shares for every 27 ordinary shares held by shareholders whose names appeared on the Register of Members and transfer books of Unilever Nigeria Plc as at the close of business on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. The issue price is N30 per share.
“Through this rights issue, we will be able to reinforce our financial flexibility to support our growth initiative, while giving shareholders an opportunity to consolidate their shareholding position. The rights issue is part of Unilever Nigeria’s long term strategic intent to strengthen the company’s capital base by deleveraging its balance sheet, support its working capital needs and position the company to exploit value creation opportunities,” said Yaw Nsarkoh Managing Director, Unilever Nigeria Plc.
Echoing similar sentiments, the Chairman, Unilever Nigeria Plc, His Royal Majesty Nnaemeka Achebe, stated that the rights issue represents a milestone event in Unilever Nigeria’s history as it marks the company’s first follow-on equity offering since its listing in 1973.
According to Achebe, “the rights issue reiterates our confidence in Unilever Nigeria’s robust future and commitment to building a more enduring business in Nigeria. We acknowledge with deep appreciation the unwavering support we have received from our stakeholders and shareholders even in trying times which has enabled us deliver positive results. We urge all shareholders to support the company’s objective by participating in the rights issue to ensure the company obtains the flexibility to attain its growth objectives.”
Speaking at the event, the CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyema said: “We are particularly pleased that Unilever Nigeria Plc., has chosen to use this platform to further inform the market of this ongoing transaction and other strategic and operational involvement in the company. As the market is driven by timely, relevant and accurate information, your interaction with the market through this forum is very welcome and we encourage you to continue with this trend.”
The offer which opened on Monday July 31, 2017 will close on Friday September 08, 2017 while Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited serves as the issuing house.
On reasons for the rights issue, Unilever explained that the net proceeds will help the company repay outstanding foreign currency denominated liabilities, purchase additional raw materials required for Unilever’s products and to meet other working capital requirements in order to build long term value for all stakeholders.
It would be recalled that the shareholders of the company approved the rights issue at the 92nd Annual General Meeting held in May, 2017.
US, Japan National Debt Surges by $8 Trillion in the Last 12 Months, China Recovers
The coronavirus-induced recession has seen countries that were already battling a skyrocketing national debt plunge into more crisis.
Data analyzed by Finbold indicates that the top five countries globally with the highest public debt added $9.17 trillion between March 2020 and March 2021. The United States tops with the debt growing by $4.57 trillion from $23.45 trillion to $28.0.2 trillion.
Elsewhere, Japan’s public debt has grown from $11.42 trillion to $14.64 trillion. Cumulatively, the two countries have added $7.79 trillion in debt. Interestingly, the analysis shows that China’s national debt dropped by $0.57 trillion from $8.56 trillion to $7.99 trillion among the selected leading economies.
In terms of the country’s national debt percentage growth, Germany tops with 35.02%, followed by Japan at 28.2%, and the U.S. ranks third at 19.29%. Italy’s debt grew by 10.8%, with the UK standing at 7.19%.
US debt crisis complicated by Covid-19 response
The record surge in national debt for the covered countries is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis triggered the most profound economic downturn, with millions of people losing jobs and businesses temporarily or permanently closed; hence, revenues shrunk while spending soared.
Even before the pandemic, the United States was already battling a huge national debt crisis. The situation was further complicated after Congress approved several stimulus packages for relief, widening the debt. Furthermore, the low-interest rates meant that the US had to shoulder a heavier debt burden.
Similarly, Japan’s high national debt stems from the country’s response to the health crisis. The stimulus spending also put more pressure on the already dire public debt.
China’s pandemic response helps lower public debt
Despite being the virus epicenter, it was controlled swiftly, with economic activities resuming normally. There was balance between spending and revenue generation, meaning the deficit amount was low over the last 12 months.
China was also able to inject more money into the economy after becoming a key exporter of products needed to fight and curb the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, Asian nations exported a significant amount of face masks and ventilators to countries that lacked the capacity to produce their own.
Away from the pandemic response, China’s declining public debt ties down the policy. In recent years the country has become less reliant on using credit to handle economic slowdowns. Amid the pandemic, policymakers were even reluctant to over-use debt to hit growth targets.
Overall, most countries globally have enacted a massive amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus to prevent a deep and prolonged recession, in return increasing the public debt burden. However, it appears there has been little effort to balance the coronavirus response with solving the national debt crisis.
The surging national debt for countries like the US is worrying since it has since surpassed its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.59 trillion, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock. It is an indicator the country might have problems repaying the loans.
With the debt in the unstainable territory for some countries, it might generally impact the government’s ability to tackle future economic downturns.
The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility Approves $1.3m Grants for Two Research to Enhance Women’s Digital Access to Loans and Micro-insurance
The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility approves grants worth $1.3 million for two research efforts to enhance women’s digital access to loans and micro-insurance.
The African Development Bank has approved two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services including loans and micro-insurance.
The grants, for $1 million and $300,000 respectively, will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle supported by the Bank, to two financial technology firms, Pula Advisors Kenya Ltd., and M-KOPA Kenya Ltd.
Pula Advisors will use the $1 million for research of social, cultural and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to micro-insurance in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. Research findings will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products. The project will be undertaken over a 3-year time frame.
“This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders.” said Sheila Okiro, the Bank’s Coordinator for ADFI.
The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50% of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30%. This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.
M-KOPA will use the $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties. The company will assess the barriers to and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial services and financial literacy programmes via smartphone, and use the research insights to design a financial services app that is relevant to small-scale women traders.
The project, approved by the Bank on 9 February, 2021, will benefit women with no or limited access to financial services that run small informal businesses. Once developed, the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to the women traders.
Both projects align with ADFI’s digital products and innovation and capacity building intervention pillars as well as its cross-cutting focus on gender inclusion, a thematic running across all its interventions.
The PULA grant approval meets African Development Bank strategic goals, including the Ten-Year Strategy, two High-5 priority areas—feed Africa and improve the quality of life for Africans— and the financial inclusion strategies of Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.
The M-KOPA project is aligned with the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program that seeks to increase access to finance for women.
ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy. The Facility was formally launched in June 2019 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Current ADFI partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury’s Ministry of Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.
FirstBank Boosts Cross Border Payment With FirstGlobal Transfer
FirstBank Boosts Cross Border Payment With FirstGlobal Transfer
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced the launch of First Global Transfer (FGT) to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The bank, in a statement, said: “First Global Transfer (FGT) initiative is specifically designed to ensure safe, timely and improved efficiency in the transfer of funds across the network of FirstBank subsidiaries in Africa.
“The FGT is not restricted to FirstBank and FBNBank customers alone but it is also open to every individual resident in the country the funds’ transfer is originating from.
“Intending users of the initiative are to visit any of the bank’s branches in Nigeria or subsidiaries in Africa, which are: FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, or FBNBank Senegal to enjoy the service.
“For example, with First Global Transfer, individuals and customers in Sierra-Leone can walk into any FBNBank branch to send money to FirstBank customers in Nigeria as well as FBNBank customers in Gambia, Ghana, DR Congo, Senegal or Guinea.”
Speaking on the initiative, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank said, “today’s customer is influenced by the technological advancement shaping businesses across various industries and our First Global Transfer (FGT) initiative is one of those advancement created to impact every individual in our host community in Africa, whilst promoting the ease and swift transfer of money from one country to another for business or personal activities.”
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